Five World Premieres Planned at Chicago's Victory Gardens, Including Plays by Reiner, Sweet, Allen

News   Five World Premieres Planned at Chicago's Victory Gardens, Including Plays by Reiner, Sweet, Allen Tony Award-honored Victory Gardens Theater, the Chicago troupe noted for its 12-member ensemble of writers and a commitment to new works, offers world premieres by Claudia Allen, Jeffrey Sweet, Gloria Bond, Annie Reiner and David C. Field in 2004-05.
Annie Reiner
Annie Reiner

The company, run by artistic director Dennis Zacek, announced its season March 30.

Annie Reiner, daughter to comic-actor and writer Carl Reiner, sees her comedy, Family Drama, open the season, in a staging that stars Harold Gould.

According to the season announcement, "Ted Gold, once a great Shakespearean actor, is the 'star' of his family. At least that's how it looks to his wife, Ruth, and daughter, Dory, who is struggling to make a family of her own. The play follows the Golds through the hilarious minutiae of everyday life, while exploring the bonds of family and the ghosts of the past. Family Drama challenges the mind and spirit, and continues to tickle the funny bone."

Dennis Zacek directs Family Drama, Sept. 10-Oct. 4. Writer Reiner is a writer, poet, artist, playwright and psychotherapist, who penned the books, "This Nervous Breakdown Is Driving Me Crazy," "Infancy And The Essential Nature of Work" and "Work and Its Inhibitions."

Later in the season, the world premiere of Sweet's Berlin '45, directed by Calvin MacLean, features Tandy Cronyn and Roderick Peeples, March 18-May 1, 2005. "In Hitler's Berlin, Trude finds that she can no longer live in the false confidence that even despotic order provides. The Russians come in. She needs to survive, seeks a protector, and is shocked to discover a soul mate in Petrov, a Russian major. Both loathe their countries' leadership. Both are horrified by what is being done by their countrymen. Both are looking for the possibility of civilization in the middle of the chaos."

Berlin '45 marks Jeffrey Sweet's 11th production and an unprecedented 25-year affiliation with Victory Gardens, which began in 1979 with a long-running production of his play, Porch.

"Frasier" and stage star John Mahoney is scheduled to star in the world premiere of David C. Field's Symmetry, June 3-July 24, 2005, though the actor is also said to possibly be connected to a commercial run of The Drawer Boy on Broadway in summer 2005. His casting at Victory Gardens is billed as tentative.

"Pure science is pitted against power politics when a brilliant young physicist, determined to escape the obscurity of his small southwestern university, triggers powerful forces equally determined to keep him there," according to Victory Gardens. "Will the West benefit from the teachings of the East? Does loyalty have a price?"

Symmetry marks the Chicago debut of David Field, a Los Angeles-based writer and producer of radio commercials and A/V shows for museums and industry.

Dennis Zacek directs Claudia Allen's Hanging Fire Nov. 5-Dec. 19. The work is "a touching, funny story of a lifelong love/hate relationship between two elderly sisters," directed by Sandy Shinner.

Shifting back and forth in time, "Hanging Fire is set on the Fourth of July in small-town America. Ruth has survived a stroke, but will she survive her sister Lillian's campaign to get her to move into terminal boredom at the Golden Years Retirement Center? What about 75-year-old boy-next-door Donny Fletcher — will Ruth endure, even embrace, his life-long bout of puppy love? And will Lillian's son Calvin ever find love with a woman who's not his mother?"

Gloria Bond Clunie's Shoes, a historical drama inspired by the tragic 1963 Birmingham church bombing in which four young black girls were killed, is directed by Andrea J. Dymond Jan. 14-Feb. 27, 2005.

"At 14, Carol is overjoyed when she receives her first pair of high heels, but devastated when she discovers herself at the gates of heaven — barefoot and perplexed. Determined to repossess her newly acquired symbol of womanhood, Carol journeys through a life and an afterlife with humor and courage. Inspired by the tragic 1963 Birmingham church bombing in which four young black girls were killed, Shoes explores the clash between faith and monumental doubt, forcing us to question the puzzle of our own existence, while examining the impact of one child's existence far beyond her own community."

Victory Gardens' 2004-05 season will also include a sixth production in fall 2004 in the Upstairs Mainstage. The Midwest premiere is still to be announced.

Victory Gardens is located at 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. For information, call (773) 871-3000 or visit www.VictoryGardens.org.

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